Spring is finally within sight and ready to bring in tow the beautiful bursts of color supplied by spring bulbs! If your property is dull and in need of a spring refresh call the experts at Plant Specialists!

Our next three blog posts will detail best practices for growing spectacular bulbs, beginning this week with proper soil preparation.

Mid September through October is the best time to buy and plant these bulbs. Snowdrops and winter aconite are the first to show up in the spring, usually in March. These are soon followed by crocus, scilla, and chionodoxa. Then come the hyacinths, daffodils, and tulips. Last is the tall Indian hyacinth (Camassia).

Soil preparation: Hardy spring bulbs need soil with good drainage where there is no danger of water standing on the surface of the ground through winter or spring. To keep the bulbs in vigorous condition and performing well for several years, prepare the soil well before planting. Organic matter can be added to “heavy” clay soils to improve their physical structure. Manure must be well rotted, because fresh manure may injure the bulbs. Apply organic matter (compost, peat moss also work well) at the rate of 5 bushels per 100 square feet, and work into the top 8 inches of soil.

Fertilizer added at planting will help maintain vigorous growth and large flowers over the years. If planting individual bulbs in holes, add about ¼ to ½ teaspoon of fertilizer prior to placing the bulb in the hole.  If planting in a bed or row, sprinkle fertilizer lightly across the bottom of bed or trench, with about one teaspoon per square foot.  Phosphorus (middle number on fertilizer analysis) is needed for good rooting, so use a fertilizer solely of this (superphosphate or rock phosphate for instance) or high in phosphorus (bulb food products).  Bone meal should be avoided as it attract skunks and rodents which will dig up bulbs looking for the “buried bones”.

Article Content courtesy Dr. Leonard P. Perry, Department of Plant and Soil Science, University of Vermont Extension